The world's hugest retailer, Wal-Mart
It earned $8 billion for the year, ahead of the previous year's $6.7 billion by 20%. That's impressive growth for any company, but it's even more so for one as large as Wal-Mart. In its fourth quarter, the retailer's net income grew by 15.5% to $2.5 billion. On a per-share basis, it earned $1.81 for the year and $0.57 for the quarter. Free cash flow grew a whopping 69%.
Sales for the year ended Jan. 31 jumped 12.3% to $244.5 billion. To give that number some perspective, consider that it translates into average daily sales of around $670 million. Even by Wal-Mart's supersized standards, that's astonishing to think about.
Fourth-quarter sales grew at a slower 10.7% to $71 billion. Total comps for the period improved by 2.7%, while for the year, they were up 5.1%. Wal-Mart had difficulty meeting its own comps expectations during the holiday season, and the relatively low quarterly figure reflects that.
The Dow component hopes that comps begin to strengthen soon, starting in February. Yesterday, it said that over the last week it is "on track" to meet its comps gain of 2% to 4% for the month. Sales were boosted in February's second week by both duct tape and lingerie. Yes, you read that right. But before you get scandalous thoughts of Americans trying to emulate Joe Millionaireloser Sarah's foray into bondage flicks, remember that last week hosted both a terror warning and Valentine's Day. Stopping by to stock up on duct tape -- and grab a little something sheer and lacey at the same time -- therefore makes perfect sense.
Looking ahead, Wal-Mart predicts earnings for the current fiscal year will be $2.00-$2.05 a share. That would mean earnings growth between 10.5% and 13%. Should the economy pick up, it is likely to do even better, though, and that's reason to celebrate. Someone pass the skimpy nighties and duct tape, please.